Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I Read The News Today

Oh boy....

I got three words in, just after the name and the word, dies and then things went all swimmy. Eyes flooded and heart broken I clicked away and several links before walking away from my laptop, pillowy soft shreds of new carpet licking the bottoms of my bare feet as I shifted from side to side in front of the dusty bookcase that takes up nearly an entire wall in my living room. Head cocked, tears still streaming I reached for the one place I knew I could hear your voice soothing me....

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.  

The first time I ever felt beautiful, when I read these words. You taught me to see myself, to see others, for each little perfect imperfection, lovely lines of laughter, scars that prove we fought, and won. Your grace, strength, intellect, courage and astounding talent made me want, more than anything, to write. There are no words Beautiful Soul....

Thank you Maya Angelou, I am forever in your debt. 

Rest In Peace.  

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Getting My Groove Back

 “We can meet down here around 12:30” I just caught the tail end of Aline’s comment as the elevator doors closed with a ding. Aline, the beautiful, funny and as we would come to find out, incredibly patient woman was the importer that had asked us all to join her on this escapade and she, on our first night, had already negotiated an extended hour on check out time at the hotel in Angers, (stunning city in the Loire Valley) because we would only be in our rooms for a few hours. 


It was nearing 4:00 in the morning, and I’d left my tiny band of fellow travelers in the hotel lobby, the ding and lilt of the a French accented start time bouncing around in my head as I drug my overweight luggage, and self, down the hall to my room. I’d been up for over 24 hours, hadn’t washed my face or even brushed my teeth in just as long and I’d already managed to get a stain on my new tie at dinner. Groggy, not sure if I fit in, already gravy soaked and somewhat pitiful I stuck the plastic card dealie in the lock and pushed myself through the tight frame of my oh-so-welcoming room. I couldn’t tear into my luggage fast enough to grab my new travel jammies, still sweet and floral with the smell of dryer sheets, as my fingers began tugging at my Converse Chuck Taylors. Tie up over my head and tossed on the floor, shoes deposited with an inappropriately loud thud and I was shimming out of my airplane saturated garments and groaning as the warm water swished about in my hair and sputtered across my skin like the softest and most loving pair of hands I’d ever known. 

I plugged in all my drained electronics, logged on to the interwebs to let those that gave a rat’s ass the, “I made it here alive” email and felt that bite in my eyes that assures me, my seconds are numbered. I could hear the crank of another shower on the other side of the wall and by the gentle thuds I could tell it was the dainty and equally in need of washing soft hands Aline, also getting her internets on and washing off the travel grease to prepare for the next day. Our first real day. The big roll of white duvet pulled back, my hair cooling and curling at the ends the way it does when it’s wet, the droplets of freshens like tiny kisses along my collarbone as I folded beneath the weight of belonging, learning, travel and drifted off to sleep.

I woke to what would become the incongruous whining of my cell phone’s “Wake Your Ass Up!” call, eyes puffy, tummy rumbling with hunger and tangoing with the anxiety of things to come…took my ass right back to the shower for more soothing hands, the ones I secretly hoped might hold me just a bit taller as I packed my barely aired out luggage and headed downstairs to meet my crew…and down a tummy settling, nerve building glass of just past noon Pastis in the very empty bar.

 Aline took us into the center of Angers with its white stony buildings and slate peppered roofs, the bustle of mid-day walkers, the bone warming of the sun that would become our fifth traveler for the duration of the voyage. A tiny French woman shoveling flan in her face as couple stumbling Americans handed over their three euros for paper wrapped baguettes stuffed with sweet butter and thin shavings of pink ham. My tummy not quite sure where we were or how to feel I tilted my still weary head back and let the earnest sun seep into my flesh….took deep breaths of air that smelled and tasted of visits long ago. We climbed in the car with the laughter already beginning to take ahold of us all and headed south to Savenieres. Our first official visit and one that would set the tone for the rest of the trip.


Our minivan pulled into the little rest stop in the village of Savenieres and we all climbed out of the car to stretch our legs and brush the tiny airy crumbs of French bread from our laps, me stopping to check for bits of butter that I was sure were stuck in the sides of my mouth in the reflection of the car window. Wasn’t but a few seconds before we heard the crumble of pebbles beneath car tires and felt the brush of freshly disturbed, powdery soft soil flit past us, “Hi! I’m Wendy” a big slightly accented voice booming from the thin but tall frame of Wendy Paille. The south African born blonde had volunteered to drive us all about, walk us through the vineyards and share the story of Pithon-Paille, both because she was free to do so, and because she craved speaking to Americans. Turns out she and husband Joseph Paille, (very French by the way) had met in Virginia where they both worked at a winery. “He claimed I was the first “American” woman she ever hated after I refused to pour him wine but he was only 20! What was I supposed to do?!” she said with a laugh that filled the cavern of the car and took up all the space our travel loggie bodies puddled in. We collectively drew to her flame and seemingly perked up just being near her energy. 

We walked the vineyards with their old gnarled Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc vines. Saw the very distinct difference between the 50 hours of soil turning work that team at Pithon-Paille put in as opposed to the ill looking yellow stained soil of the chemical soaked vineyards of their neighbors. Listened as Wendy talked of the past 3 vintages and, somewhat terrifying, shortages and expressed her impassioned frustration about having to lose a couple rows of their organic vines, in order to keep their certification, because of the runoff of pesticide poisoning by those adjoining soils. Her voice as warm and welcoming as the pink flesh that began to glow beneath our sleeves and her love for her family’s work effusive, addictive, and inspiring. 

As our little caravan puffed along the dirt roads, the rows of vineyards speeding past my window so strong and erect that it was like looking through the teeth of a comb. We pulled up to a tiny cottage of sorts to find a man that looked three times his size, mutton chops, big tough-skinned palms rested upon the worn knees of his black slacks, iconic hat dusty and barely sitting upon his head. I could just tell, this man, this was a man I was meant to meet. 

Jo, this was Jo Pithon a man that had spun my head years ago without ever having to leave is gorgeous village of lush green and succulently textured goat cheeses. A Chenin Blanc made by Jo Pithon was poured for me around six years ago, it lit my fire and ignited something. Been on a “Chenin is badass” campaign ever since and now, here I was, face to mutton chopped face with the reason why….

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Yeah, I Remember You.....Damn

So as the house French wine specialist, and lifer at The Wine Country it has, over the years become my calling to bring in the wall of refreshing and craveable pink wine that meets everyone's eyes the second they walk through the front door each Spring and Summer. This is not only my pleasure it is, thanks to the overwhelming response from all of our customers, my honor to take charge of what has become the most favored warm weather wine, our selection of which is down right legendary. I assure you, for just as many wines as they see there were just as many that were rejected for being too simple, fruity, alcoholic or just plain weird and while I am sure I will find no sympathy I promise you, it is not so much fun to smell, taste and spit the wines that don’t make the cut. Even less fun having to explain to some bandwagoning supplier that their, just acquired....(because you know, everyone has to have a Rose now), Rose is flat, insipid and falls into the, "Are you stoned?!" pricing category compared to the wines we are already working with. Been in the Rose game far too long to be dazzled by some craptastic left behind. If the guys that "got it" before it was hip opted to leave it in France, well then chances are this buyer is going to let in get lost in your giant portfolio of just okay wines. Sorry....  


I am asked every year, “Which ones are good?” or “Which is your favorite?” and as any good mother would, “They are all good and it would be too hard to pick a favorite” is what you will hear by way of a response from me. The wines are all good, wouldn’t be at the store if I didn’t truly believe that but as to which is my favorite, well like that mother thing, I might be fibbing a little.

Last year a few of our Saturday tasters as well as a chunk of my blog readers were let in on my favorite Rose, the Domaine de la Fouquette Cotes de Provence Rose and once they tasted it we blew through the last available eight cases on the west coast, in less than a day and a half. It was unreal and while I was a tad bummed that I had let my Rose cat of the proverbial bag and there was no more for me to sip away on, I was thrilled that I was able to share that wine, my most beloved wine, with those of you that got that opportunity to try it. 

So as it turns out, I have already found the Rose that makes my toes curl, far earlier this year than last year but sadly, it is just as limited, in fact...far more limited. Don’t you just hate that?!  Got our annual Rose Fest coming up here screaming fast and now I find myself in a quandary, pour it for our event or spill here first and let those that wish to be seduced by the most compelling Rose I've had, well since two vintages ago when this very same producer released his 2011 Rose on me. Oh yeah, damn, I remember you...

So last year the Fouquette was simply charming. A delightful little Rose that drank like it had a fistful of grapefruit squeezed into it and should have been far more expensive....even tasted it along side some wines twice its price and still preferred the Fouquette. Stoopid value that was simply delicious. This year however, it isn't a charmer that has stolen my, this wine reaches beyond the constraints of Rose and lands squarely in that seductive, contemplative and haunting category.
"Don't hide it, divide it"
"I can't stop thinking about that wine....that Rose you let me taste"
"So is it here yet, that more than Rose, Rose? I knew I was going to be in trouble working here with these Rose but that one? Man."

Expressions of elation from one of our newer staff members Brian Holowka who is experiencing his very first, "Summer of Sam" as it were, and was the lucky recipient of not one but two shared sample bottles of the Rose that is now haunting the both of us.

The 2013 Clos Marie Pic Saint Loup Rose is one sexy beast of a wine that I shall covet until the last of the 15 cases that I've begged for have vanished. At $18.99 a bottle I'm guessing that it won't fly like some of the less expensive and easier to swallow Roses do. Guessing is the same as hoping right? A very serious wine that drinks even better, if you can stand it, on day two than it does upon opening it, but in the interest of true confessions, I have greedily devoured the saturated fruit, wet stones, striations of spice, curvy mouth filling weight in one gloriously satisfying sitting. And I plan on doing it again and again. Too serious to just suck back, too sexy to ignore, this is a wine that works both your palate and your head and digs its impression on your tongue like a pair of slowly pulsating stiletto heels.  I am deeply in love with it, but by all means, feel free to just ignore it, deem it too pricy or just another pink wine. It has a place to go, a palate that is waiting, wanting and ready......

I have 15 cases on hold, ready to arrive at the first week of June, just in time, as I stated, for our annual Rose Fest but...part of me wants to exclude it from the event to feed my own need to be be spun and titillated, but also, I want those that are so inclined, the ones that drink like I do, taste like I do, let themselves be pulled under over and over again until they quit fighting and just let go, I want to make sure those people get a chance to taste it um, what if I offer a wee bit of a discount to those who pull the trigger before the wine even gets here? Can't really sell what has already been sold now can I? 

Trust me? If you so, hit me up here, email, phone or on Facebook, or if you are more comfortable avoiding me, (and who could blame you really?!) all together you can simply go here, enter coupon code (you will see it at checkout) 10offclosmarie and you get this stunningly sexy Rose for $16.99 a bottle!

Not a huge reduction but it might stimulate you a bit, the wine, well the wine will finish you off. Only good for the 15 cases we have on order and offer expires the day the wine arrives June 2nd, (and I will be out of town so I can't save you any once they get here!) and seeing as we took half the allocation for the west coast...well you have been alerted, an warned. 


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Succulent Suffrage

If you’re going to suffer you should suffer magnificently.

Not sure where or when I first heard that but that phrase resonated with me and has been with me, for as long as I can or care to remember. Spoke to my slightly untamed and indulgent nature. Was louder and more enticing than the sullen voices and gray shaded memories of hollow women that would scold me for laughing too hard or too loud, falling in love to often, kissing too hard, twirling my hair betwixt my fingers or giving myself over to any real pleasure.

Somewhere around fifteen I found myself sitting stiff and awkward at my grandmother’s table. Not “our” table mind you, hers as she was the one that afforded and could promise my mother the too-sweet-to-ignore possibility of spending her days breezing about some palatial rancho home in the high desert, millions of miles away from the screeching of a close to being cut off phone and the boom of demanding bill collectors. The air thick with cigarette smoke, older than I was, a gracelessly slung fur coat propped, as in behaving like a prop, propped behind our frosted hair matriarch as she and  my mother whispered, scowled and passed judgment on a group of people three tables over.  

The group was opulent for sure; many empty bottles and more on the way, food remaining on their plates while they ordered dessert, lots of laughing, cuddling, touching, kissing that made my heart flutter and other parts of me wonder. I sat there watching this six top of shameful behavior wishing I could slip out from under my chair, ditch the “civility” of whispering women, the clinking of the ice in their frigid glasses of sugar-less tea. The slow, guilt laden, stabbing of food….the glances around the room to see if anyone was watching them pleasure themselves with the sweetness of a boiled potato. The shoulders back, the head high, the nose even higher. Trojan horses of regality that were filled with envy, resentment and  the kind of jealousy that wrote volumes without them having to do more than splay their nostrils and raise their brows. I ached to slip away and let myself plunk bits of food…food that I picked at with my fingers between my lips. Longed to pick up one of those glasses and let the warm with alcohol liquid slip down my throat and loosen the behavioral corset that bound me so tight that I was incapable of feeling much of anything at all.

I sat there, them shaking their heads, looking over their shoulders, bitter words of “trashy” and “no class” feeling slightly fragmented. My years of trying to please these women urging me to agree, to denounce these people for…and that was when it hit me, denounce them for what? Having fun? Living too much? Laughing too hard, enjoying their food too much, touching, kissing, wanting? Oh I felt shame for sure but it was at the boorish, uncivil and very clearly jealous snapping of the people at my own table. If this was what you got from living your life by the rules, restraining yourself from feeling too good too often, this holier than thou attitude full of judgment and ugly words sputtered from a tight lipped frown, well then I was ready to go stomping around in puddles, naked, Slim Jim between my teeth as I swung my hips to Let’s Get It On. 

Now I know there are wicked smart and driven teenagers but sadly I was not one of them.  I went about this new, “Gonna get my feel on” thing all wrong. Took a lover at 16, as if the fumbling of some 16 year old boy was somehow going to please, placate or teach me anything. Fail. That was my first of many failures when it came to discovering what made me feel good…although I did find that I derived tremendous pleasure from seducing him, so much as it was. The way he would risk just about anything to be with me simply by me giving him a certain look or brushing the back of his neck with the tips of my fingers. The way he would stutter, stammer, tear at my clothes like an animal and the way I could get him to follow me behind the building where he worked because I “Simply had to be with him”. Wish I could say that was the greatest 3 minutes of my life, wasn’t but I did start to figure out that I was getting the real pleasure by making him feel, crave and need.

The relationship was bound to end, fuck I mean we were only 16 but it was doomed more by my pretending it was just for fun when I actually cared very deeply for him. I needed him and the way he made me unrealistically feel like I was in charge. I never was. I knew it although I suspect he never did.  That thing of ours went on into our twenties, both of us in and out of relationships but always lovers. He wanted the body I was freely giving him and I wanted all of him. To this day he holds the record for breaking my heart, hurt me the worst and to this day….I don’t blame him and I would do it all over again. To learn as much as I did, to hide the way my own heart was pounding away when he would kiss me, the pain I felt when he would talk to me about his newest love, the way I cried every time he left.

 If you’re going to suffer….

I find myself now, at nearly 43 and here I am at that “touching bottle filled table” using my fingers to eat whenever I wish, pouring plenty of warm alcohol rich liquid down my throat and still playing around with whatever bit of crave I might be able to instigate. I will flirt, bend my body, wet my lips and growl saucy things to make people stutter but I’ve found my true pleasure comes from using my words to inspire want. Wine or otherwise. 

 Being able to describe something in a way that drives people to seek out that moment that bottle, that taste.  Truly drives me wild. I’m lucky enough to work in an industry that kind of requires that, unbelievably lucky to have a boss that allows me, often encourages me to do it in my way and now, now there are others. I’m still reeling from this trip to France that has not only brought me new friendships I know will live on long after the wines we discovered have sold. It has me swimming in the headspace that makes me feel punch drunk and like I’m glowing from the inside out. I’m fatigued as fuck and while I claw and shimmy back into the spots that need and want me, I find that my voice is gurgling right at the base of my throat, my fingers are twisting my hair again and as the soft tuffs of blonde slither through the deep v’s of my fingers I find myself once again noticing. I’ve got that pull in my tummy. Like a moth to a flame fluttering around the less populated but dripping with dewy high desert sweat and the desire to learn more.

A shy woman traveled to France, drank deeply from the cupped hands of artisans, chewed judiciously at the body of work in my path, felt the callouses of the people, the leaky open ended bottles as they whispered their stories and seeped their history so deeply into my flesh it acts like pressurized tattoo. I’m stained with the color, scent and voices that filled my ears and haunted by the wines that I have to share..

If you’re going to suffer…

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Not Gone Just....

Trying to get back on track....
I promise.

Recovering Traveler